Champions of a Park Legacy
The spotlight is shining on the Glendalough Park Partners, and it’s well-deserved. Since their inception in 1991—the same year the park was established—the Glendalough Park Partners have profoundly impacted the park with their planning, fundraising, promotion, and habitat restoration projects.
In recognition of this accomplishment, Parks & Trails Council proudly presents the Glendalough Park Partners with its annual Friends Group Partner Award. The award will be presented during Parks & Trails Council Annual Dinner on Sept. 13. The award includes a $500 monetary award to support the Friends Group’s work.
Glendalough State Park manager Jeffery Wiersma is quick to praise the incredible contributions of this Friends Group. “Working often with limited resources,” Wiersma notes, “they have created a spectacular venue for unique and unforgettable experiences while always balancing recreational opportunities with wise stewardship of the land and waters that make this place special.”
Over the years, the Partners have successfully led ambitious plans to build amenities for the park. Nearly a decade ago, they helped build the Glendalough Trail, a roughly 12-mile trail that connects the park with the nearby city of Battle Lake. The trail sparked a bicycling bonanza for the area and renewed interest in the park. With trail use booming, the Partners saw the need for a new Trail Center in the park.
Without delay, they embarked on a multi-year advocacy and fundraising campaign. They received the support of Senator Jordan Rasmussen, who pushed through a bill to secure bonding funds. Additionally, legacy funds were secured. And on Nov. 1, 2022, Steve Nelson, the president of Partners, presented a $550,000 check to Ann Pierce, the DNR Director of Parks and Trails for the remaining amount. Groundbreaking happened this spring, and the Trail Center is expected to be completed as early as October, barring any unexpected delays.
If that weren’t enough, the Partners have also trailblazed efforts to build a 2-mile extension of the Sunset Lake Trail in the park. This extension addresses a major safety issue by getting bikers and hikers off the main entrance road to the park and completes the final, sixth segment of the Glendalough Trail System. The park staff are in the process of identifying a contractor and hopes to begin construction this fall. The construction will likely take several months to complete.
Part of the Partners’ fundraising success comes from their annual “Walk for Glendalough,” which regularly draws an enthusiastic crowd. This year’s event, held on Apr. 23, was no different. Despite chilly weather, the Partners raised an incredible $11,000 to support the park.
Another shining accomplishment is their pursuit of Dark Sky certification, a challenging endeavor to combat light pollution. By preserving the beauty of the night sky, they protect the park’s diverse wildlife and allow park users to experience a connection to the universe above us. It’s a cause close to their hearts, and they are determined to join the ranks of Dark Sky-certified parks in the near future.
Despite facing various challenges, the Glendalough Park Partners have remained steadfast and resilient. Their passion for conservation and the support of their dedicated followers have been crucial to their success.
We can’t wait to see how their dedication continues to shine, ensuring a brighter future for Glendalough State Park and inspiring others to protect our natural treasures.